Turkish beekeeping and honey production is now one of the biggest in the world and it will put its expertise on show when it will host two international scientific beekeeping congresses in our area this year.
Honey production is a very important source of rural income and sustainable development within Turkey. The total honey produced nationally increased by 15 percent between 2009 and 2011 to 94 thousand tonnes.
Locally the lush, fertile environment of southern Turkey is home to trillions of bees, millions of hives and hundreds of beekeepers who carry out a form of farming that has been around for thousands of years.
Local husband and wife team Celal Tombak and his wife Cennet are professional honey bee keepers.
They keep over 300 hives in total which provides homes for thousands and thousands of honey bees.
Last year he said he produced a crop consisting of 10 tonnes of honey, wax for industry and pollen and royal jelly for the health food industry and medicines.
At the time we spoke with Celal in October his hives were at Inlice but he does move them around so the bees get the best nectar depending on the season. This area of Mugla has a long honey flow season ranging from April to November.
He will begin feeding 1:1 sugar water and patties at least six weeks prior to the onset of the first major nectar flow.
This encourages the production of bees that will be at the appropriate age for foraging by the time the main nectar flows. It also keeps the bees healthy during the winter months.
In mid March he’ll move the bees in his lorry to a village in the mountains above Seki for a month or so to take advantage of the spring flowers and fruit tree blossom. He will then take them on down to Elmali for the apple blossom.
August will see him return the bees to the sweet pine scented area behind Inlice. Pine honey is a type of honeydew honey stronger in flavour than nectar honey.
He took us on a little tour of his hives and showed us how the bees work away.
Cennet, who had moved to the end of one row of hives, then returned with a tray of pollen which they collect from the hives.
This is expensive stuff as anyone who has seen the product for sale in health shops will know, and used in medicines.
Beekeeping is an important part of the local and national farming economy.
In 2003 a study carried out by Ege University stated that Turkey was ranked as the fourth largest producer of honey after China, USA and Argentina. It also found that Mugla produced 2.79 percent of Turkey’s total honey output.
The average honey produced per hive in the area was just over 23kg per year.
In June 2013 Chairman of Turkish Beekeepers Association Bahri Yilmaz was quoted in the press in June saying that Turkey is now second only to China in beekeeping followed by the Ukraine, United States and Russia.
He said Turkey has 22 percent of all bees and has almost 6.5 million hives.
The two international congresses, known as the Asia Beekeepers Association Meeting, will take place in Antalya in April 2014 and Fethiye in November 2014 should help this thr(h)iving business.